Senior Grace Niewijk wins 3rd in national science competition

April 29, 2014

This past weekend, Oak Park and River Forest High School senior Grace Niewijk received a 3rd place award at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, one of the toughest of all juried science competitions for students. She received her award in the Medicine & Health category, winning $6,000. To achieve this win, Grace competed against—and defeated—students who previously had won the world's premier student science competition, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF).

Grace was one of 230 U.S. students to compete at nationals, held in Washington, D.C., after winning first place overall at the regional level. Her submission included a 40-page paper on her original research project, called “Creation of a Novel Absorbent Antimicrobial Bandage from Slime of the Pacific Hagfish for Use on Burns and Wounds.” In addition, she had to orally defend her work to the judges. (For further information on the competition, go to

Grace completed her project as part of OPRF’s Investigative Research in Biomedical Innovation, or IRBI, class. Last year IRBI students won first place either individually or as a team in all six Chicago-area competitions they entered. The IRBI class is taught by Allison Hennings, who was a finalist in the 2013 Golden Apple Awards.